Eighty-five percent of those that have cruised before plan to cruise again. That's 6% more people planning to cruise than pre-pandemic. The rosy number is part of Cruise Lines Industry Association's State of the Cruise Industry 2023, which was released during this week's Seatrade Cruise Global conference in Fort Lauderdale.
According to the report, some 31.5 million cruisers are forecast to take to the high seas, which is 1.8 million more than in 2019. By 2027, more than 39 million people are forecast to take a cruise.
As for whether these cruisers are using advisors, the resounding answer is yes with 65% of those surveyed in CLIA's Cruise Traveler Sentiment, Perception, and Intent Survey of December 22, saying they used a travel advisor to book their cruise in the last six months.
Surprisingly, the lowest percentage of those who use a travel advisor was for Baby Boomers. Only 44% said they used a travel advisor versus 68% of Gen-X, 66% of Millennials, and 69% of Gen-Z.
Who Is the 'Average' Cruiser?
The North American market remains the largest source market for the global cruise industry, accounting for 12.5 million cruisers in 2022, down from 15.4 million in 2019.
As for who is cruising, for the North American market, the average cruiser between 45 and 47 years old. Despite this, cruiser 60 and older represent the largest segment of cruisers – though just barely. Thirty-three percent of cruisers are 60 or older, but 32% are between the ages of 40 and 59. Twenty percent are between 20 and 39 years old.
This younger subset also has the highest intention to cruise again, with 88% of Millennials who have cruised before saying they plan to cruise again. Gen-X isn't far behind at 86%, and 82% of Baby Boomers say they plan to cruise again.
Cruisers at the younger end of the average (globally) are generally sticking to sailing in the Caribbean or along the North American west coast into Mexico. The global average age goes up for almost all other destinations. (The single exception is in Asia/China, where the average age is 41.)
For instance, the average age of a cruiser in Northern Europe and the Baltic is 51. In Alaska, the average age is 53 years old. At the far end of the average are cruisers to Canada/New England (62 years old), and transatlantic and World Cruises (63 years old).
Where Are People Cruising?
With so many North Americans cruising, the Caribbean (including the Bahamas and Bermuda) remains the top destination for cruise travelers. In 2022, more than 9 million cruisers visited the Caribbean versus 3.8 million in the Mediterranean, 1.5 million in Northern Europe, 1.2 million in Alaska, and 1.1 million cruising along the North American west coast.
The top ports are not so surprising when you consider that the Caribbean and Bahamas are so popular among cruisers. More than 2.5 million cruisers embarked and disembarked a cruise in Miami. Another 2 million cruised in and out of Port Canaveral, and 1.7 million started and ended their cruise in Port Everglades.
What's Influencing Cruisers' Decisions?
When it comes to what has the strongest influence on traveler decisions to book a cruise or not, family and friends dominate, with 86% saying they have a significant or some influence on their decision to book a cruise.
Eighty-one percent that news coverage about travel has a significant or some influence, while 78% said that news coverage about the cruise industry has a significant or some influence.
Seventy-three percent said their travel advisor or travel agency has significant or some influence on their decision. Other influencers include marketing/advertising (76%), opinions of high profile individuals (55%), and social media influencers (53%).